Mineral deficiencies occur when the body does not have enough minerals. The deficiency manifests itself in many different ways. It is best treated with special preparations and a healthy diet.
What is a mineral deficiency?
In order for our body to function properly, we must provide it with sufficient minerals. However, our organism cannot produce these itself. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Mineral Deficiency.
So we have to ingest them with food. With these vital substances, a distinction is made between trace and bulk elements. Trace elements are for example iron, fluorine, iodine or zinc. They are only in “traces” in our organism. Our body only needs tiny portions.
It is different with bulk elements such as calcium, potassium, magnesium or sodium. We have to absorb far more of this through food.
If some minerals are not available in sufficient quantities, one speaks of mineral deficiency. Our body responds with complaints.
An unbalanced diet can quickly lead to a mineral deficiency. With a longer diet, we often do not provide our body with all the minerals it needs. Equally, however, the long-term consumption of ready meals is by no means advantageous. Here, too, important vital substances for the human organism are usually missing.
In different phases of life we simply need more minerals than usual. For example in the growth phases as a child and adolescent, during pregnancy or in old age.
In addition, the organism can lose important minerals through diarrhea, vomiting or excessive sweating. Eating disorders and alcoholism also do not have a beneficial effect on the body’s mineral balance at all. A mineral deficiency can also be triggered by various diseases, such as diabetes or kidney diseases.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A mineral deficiency often only becomes noticeable when the mineral has fallen below a certain value in the blood or in the cell. Which symptoms then arise depends on the mineral that is deficient. For this reason, here are some examples of deficiency symptoms of typical minerals.
Magnesium and potassium are particularly relevant for the function of nerves and muscles as well as for heart activity. Deficiencies can become noticeable here, especially in cramps of the muscles. For example, calf cramps at night are a typical symptom of a magnesium deficiency. Potassium also has an effect on digestion, so a deficiency can be indicated by constipation or diarrhea.
In the heart area, a lack of minerals (also known as a lack of electrolytes ) can be recognized by tachycardia, clearly noticeable palpitations or an irregular heartbeat (“heart stumbling” = extrasystoles). When it comes to the nerves, a magnesium deficiency can lead to hyperexcitability, restlessness and insomnia, while fatigue is typical of a potassium deficiency.
Zinc deficiency is closely linked to a weakness in the immune system. A zinc deficiency can therefore be behind an increased susceptibility to infections or a general weakness in performance. Iron deficiency is closely linked to anemia and is often manifested by a noticeable pallor. Fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath or palpitations can also indicate a lack of iron.
Diagnosis & History
When there is a mineral deficiency, we often feel weak, tired and struggle with muscle problems. However, the symptoms are usually very different – depending on which important element our body is missing. Here are some examples:
If there is a calcium deficiency, the bones build up more slowly or gradually break down again. If there is too little iodine or fluorine in the organism, the bones will soften. Muscle cramps occur more frequently when the body is not supplied with sufficient potassium or magnesium.
In the case of a sodium deficiency, blood pressure falls, among other things, and if the concentration of iron in the body is too low, the oxygen supply through the blood is restricted. In addition, zinc deficiency disrupts the metabolic process, among other things.
A mineral deficiency can lead to many different symptoms and complications. However, these depend very much on the severity of the deficiency and the missing minerals, so that in most cases a general course of this disease cannot be predicted. However, those affected suffer from disturbances in concentration and coordination.
Digestive disorders or sleep disorders can also occur, which have a very negative effect on the patient’s quality of life. Those affected also suffer from reduced resilience and permanent fatigue. Blood breathing also occurs and those affected often feel exhausted or depressed.
Furthermore, there can also be various psychological upsets, so that the patient’s everyday life is restricted by the mineral deficiency. The bones and muscles break down if the disease is not treated. Bone fractures can also occur more frequently due to the mineral deficiency. The treatment of this deficiency depends on its cause.
As a rule, the mineral deficiency can be counteracted relatively easily with the help of supplements, so that there are no special complications. If the mineral deficiency is successfully treated, there are no further complications or a reduced life expectancy for the patient.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the person concerned suffers from various symptoms that gradually creep in and increase in intensity over several weeks or months, a doctor is needed. A mineral deficiency is characterized by the continuous increase in symptoms that slowly spread in the organism and lead to a constant deterioration in health. Sudden changes and irregularities appear only at a later stage. Therefore, a visit to the doctor is advisable even in the case of diffuse symptoms and discrepancies. Those affected often complain of digestive problems, general malaise or a loss of normal performance. The strength dwindles and exhaustion sets in more quickly than usual in everyday life.
If you are tired, have trouble sleeping, or have an irregular heartbeat, you should see a doctor. If there is an increase in infectious diseases, a rise in body temperature or an unusual pallor of the skin, it is necessary to consult a doctor. Heart palpitations, headaches, inner restlessness and irritability are further signs of an existing illness. A lack of concentration, breathing disorders and severe heart palpitations must be presented to a doctor and must be clarified. In the event of shortness of breath or fears, the cause should be investigated as soon as possible so that treatment can be initiated. A loss of well-being, mood swings, and abnormal behavior indicate disorders and should be investigated.
Treatment & Therapy
Anyone suffering from a specific mineral deficiency should definitely supply the missing element separately in the form of special mineral supplements.
However, it is important to ensure that these are organically usable minerals. Otherwise the body can only convert the supplements supplied with moderate success. In addition, waste products accumulate in the connective tissue. This is an additional burden for the organism.
The missing vital substances can also be taken together with vitamins as (effervescent) tablets. There are also special drinks on the market that specifically balance the mineral balance after sporting activities.
But before you make a diagnosis yourself, it is important to consult a doctor. This can identify any defects more specifically and diagnose them more quickly. He then prescribes certain mineral supplements. In the case of very severe deficiency symptoms, an infusion may sometimes even be necessary.
In addition, a doctor clarifies the causes of the mineral deficiency in detail. In some cases, patients suffer from certain diseases and need to take the preparations for a longer period of time. If you have severe diarrhea or vomiting, it is particularly important to see a doctor. Any risks to the heart and circulatory system can be prevented immediately.
Outlook & Forecast
In many cases, a mineral deficiency can be treated well, so that the symptoms often regress. It has a positive effect on the prognosis if the deficiency is recognized and treated early. What is decisive, however, is the cause of the defect. If a person does not get enough of the necessary minerals from the diet, it may be sufficient to adjust the diet accordingly or to take the dietary supplements prescribed by the doctor. However, if the deficiency persists, the symptoms can worsen.
However, the medical problem can also be related to other physical and mental illnesses. A mineral deficiency that occurs as a result of an eating disorder, for example, cannot be viewed in isolation. In this case, the eating disorder should also be treated to avoid further complications. The prognosis for the mineral deficiency in this case depends on the treatment options for the primary disease.
This also applies to physical illnesses, which mean that the minerals cannot be absorbed by the body, even though the person affected is actually consuming enough minerals through food. The underlying disease often has to be treated here – possibly in addition to a change in diet and/or dietary supplements. However, which measures are necessary and which make sense always depends on the individual case.
A mineral deficiency can be prevented with a balanced diet. Particular emphasis should be placed on whole grain products, fruit and vegetables. Fish and meat should make up only a small part of the diet. Drinking a lot is just as important, but please no cola drinks or alcohol! Mineral water, teas and fruit juice spritzers are much more beneficial against mineral deficiencies. In addition, sweets should only be consumed in small quantities.
Since a mineral deficiency can be remedied relatively easily with an appropriate change in diet and substitution, no follow-up care is necessary. If the signs such as diarrhea or severe constipation, tachycardia or even severe restlessness and sleeping problems show up again to an unusual extent, it is advisable to see the doctor treating you immediately. Light, sporting activity can help to strengthen the weakened body, gentle exercises such as those practiced in yoga are suitable for this. If the mineral deficiency has led to depression or other psychological problems that continue to occur even after the acute treatment period, this should be clarified with a psychologist. Sometimes therapy can help bring the mental household back into balance.
You can do that yourself
The best way to prevent a mineral deficiency is to eat a healthy diet, which, in addition to lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, is primarily based on whole grains, seeds, seeds and nuts. Practical life constraints such as stress, overtime, business trips and last but not least the often still very unhealthy, greasy and meat-heavy range of canteens make such a diet extremely difficult. Many people are also plagued by allergies or other intolerances that make a balanced diet even more difficult.
Anyone who observes signs of a mineral deficiency should therefore go to the doctor promptly and have this suspicion clarified. Iron deficiency, which manifests itself in tiredness, exhaustion and hair loss, is very widespread, especially among women. Anyone taking iron supplements should know that certain substances, such as caffeine, inhibit the absorption of this mineral. It is therefore better to take iron tablets in the evening. Vitamin C, on the other hand, promotes the absorption of iron from food, which is why iron-rich foods such as oatmeal should be enriched with a pinch of ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
There is an increased need for minerals in particular during physical exertion, especially during heavy physical work and during sports. Lots of minerals are lost through heavy sweating. In such situations, a mineral deficiency can be prevented by drinking isotonic drinks such as juice spritzers or non-alcoholic beer. In the case of permanent physical stress or during pregnancy, the intake of dietary supplements may also be indicated.